Dunkin’ Donuts One-Ups Everyone in the Pumpkin Spice Latte Race
To hell with playing the Pumpkin Spice Latte waiting game. Late last week, Dunkin’ Donuts decided to one-up major competitors like McDonald’s and Starbucks, announcing that its PSLs would be available in some areas starting immediately, with the rest of the country to follow “no later than August 29.” Sure, we still have two full weeks of summer left, but how is anyone supposed to enjoy the beach when they’re busy pining for their favorite hot fall drink? Similar to how Christmas has slowly impinged on our enjoyment of other end-of-the-year holidays—with Black Friday shopping swallowing up Thanksgiving and seasonal music playlists being rolled out shockingly close to Halloween—the battle over Pumpkin Spice Latte sales has been terrorizing what should be the final warm wistful moments of summer before Labor Day.
Of course, Starbucks is the biggest player in the PSL game, laying claim to inventing the beverage back in 2003. The overwhelming success of the coffee giant’s OG fall seasonal pumpkin-spiced drink can probably take credit for launching the ensuing pumpkin spice insanity, which has lead to products from English muffins to air fresheners and pretty much everything else in between.
Despite being the “Godfather of Pumpkin Spice,” Starbucks has proven to be increasingly coy over the past few years in letting ravenous fans know exactly when the brand’s most beloved seasonal drink will finally hit stores. Today, the Starbucks Newsroom released a very cheeky “exclusive interview” with “the Real PSL.” But as far as an actual launch date, all the “PSL” had to say was this: “TBH, what I’ve got planned for this year is hot. Can’t wait to share it soon but gotta put the finishing touches on it first—then we’ll chat. 'wink’.” Even a fictional talking beverage won’t tell us anything yet!
Meanwhile, McDonald’s got word out about the forthcoming return of its McCafe Pumpkin Spice Latte nearly two weeks ago, letting Americans know they’ll be able to find the Grimace-approved version of a PSL at all McDonald’s locations starting on August 31.
Apparently seeing an opening, Dunkin’ Donuts decided to bypass the unnecessary fanfare of announcing a release date, announcing instead that the doughnut shop would try to get everyone their PSLs ASAP. Pumpkin-flavored coffee, lattes, and macchiatos were set to hit stores in metro New York on August 18, while customers in other regions would be assured of the opportunity to drop into a Dunkin’ and grab a PSL at least two days before the McDonald’s rollout—and who knows how far in advance of the return of Starbucks PSLs.
Of course, with everyone trying to release their PSLs sooner than the other guy, we’re getting dangerously close to what could be referred to as “the PSL singularity,” the moment when one of the major chains will simply put PSLs on its year-round menu. It would be the latte-equivalent of hearing Christmas music 12 months a year. And yes, it would probably be the end of humanity as we know it.